Ori founders and Blind Forest developer Moon Studios have been accused of toxic behavior and mismanagement.
A Venturebeat report on the Vienna-based company includes various details about Moon Studios founders Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol, who they say fostered a work environment where anyone could speak up without fear of reprisal. .
But this approach led to the founders insulting themselves and their staff on several occasions, according to the report. One example – the two men’s comments on an internal report – included the comments “nobody really cares what you think” and “lol you’re retarded”.
The subject of Moon Studios’ next project has also caused concern among staff. In development under the working title Forsaken, the game’s main character would initially have been a rape survivor.
Maher, Venturebeat wrote, had pushed for it to be the character’s origin story to create motivation for him to become a “tough guy” later on. Maher finally backed down after “weeks of arguments”.
Mahler and Korol have since responded to the report – their comments can be found below. The couple also held a staff meeting ahead of its release, where they said the following:
“Whether it’s a good idea or not, well, that’s not the question,” Korol reportedly told his colleagues. “But obviously trying to paint the narrative that there’s a deeper bad thing going on. It’s a bit unfair, to be frank. The way this article will characterize things might be unfair. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect. It doesn’t mean we can’t improve or shouldn’t improve.”
Moon Studios issued the following statement to Venturebeat, reproduced here in full:
“We don’t think the experiences suggested by your questions are representative of the 80+ members of the Moon Studios team who thrive and do great work every day – nor do we think they’re representative of the experiences of former members of our team.In fact, we are very proud of our tradition of making people happy, advancing their careers and contributing to their financial success.
“We built Moon Studios with a simple premise. First, we wanted to create a distributed studio that is not limited by geographic boundaries allowing us to attract top talent from around the world. Second, we wanted to foster a vibrant culture where our team thrives and delivers the best work in our industry. And finally, from day one, we decided to share the benefits and rewards of our efforts with the entire team. We believe we have succeeded.
“What makes our team so powerful is our global and cultural diversity – we have team members working in over 40 different countries across four continents – and a flat studio structure that allows everyone to speak honestly. and directly and to challenge and push each other to do our best.We deliberately decided to create a different kind of studio – a studio that encourages creativity, open communication, collaboration and performance.
“The result has been two award-winning games – with more on the horizon – and a team of professionals who enjoy working together, excel and innovate in our industry, while sharing in the financial success of Moon Studios. If at times, we We’re brutally direct in our criticism and challenges, we’re also sincere and vocal in our praise, and we’re incredibly proud of everything we’ve built and achieved together.
“Finally, we appreciate the irony that we – an Austrian Jew and an Israeli – started this multicultural business. We consider each other brothers. And, like brothers, we sometimes argue and frequently tease each other. differences in our backgrounds – and there may have been times when our teasing with each other seemed insensitive and perhaps made others feel uncomfortable.”
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